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Shingles
Old 02-06-2013, 06:57 AM   #1
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Shingles

My wife has a rash going down one side of her neck and upper chest. She just went to the general doctor and she thinks it might be shingles. She prescribed some topical cream and antibiotics and wants to hear back by Friday about the progress before moving on to a different treatment.

Has anyone dealt with this and do you have any suggestions for getting through it, prevention, etc? My wife is 36 and wasn't expecting something like this but now it seems more common than we thought (especially among younger people) after feedback from friends & family.

I think she needs to back off the exercise & running a bit. It's too much in my opinion and I think it is weakening her defenses.

-Tim
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Old 02-06-2013, 07:31 AM   #2
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If it is shingles, she needs to get on anti-virals now! If caught in the first 48 hours, the anti-virals will significantly reduce the pain and shorten the time with shingles.

I know, I had shingles last year at this time. Due to quick response, my case lasted less than a week, with virtually no pain.

FWIW
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Old 02-06-2013, 07:45 AM   #3
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If it is shingles, she needs to get on anti-virals now! If caught in the first 48 hours, the anti-virals will significantly reduce the pain and shorten the time with shingles.
This (I have read anywhere from 50 to 72 hours for optimal)! I don't think there is a big negative to taking them if you are not sure. But did the doctor discuss this? I am thinking he really does not think it is shingles if he didn't prescribe . . . because I almost can't imagine him not doing that. Or maybe he thought the rash has already existed for too long.

There is extensive information on shingles on the internet, easy to google. I realized I had shingles shortly after I had flown back to my home in the Philippines in October, 2012 from the USA, at about 11 PM one evening. I had anti-virals in my body within an hour of that moment (available over the counter here). I almost couldn't believe it -- I live a stress free life and am quite healthy. But that doesn't always matter much, it can happen to anyone who has had chicken pox in their lifetime. My case was mild with little pain or discomfort except slight "nerve-type tingling" pain during intense exercise. It never looked that bad (someone looking at me with my shirt off probably couldn't tell without medical knowledge) but probably took 5 weeks to totally clear up.

I believe that anti-virals sometimes are not prescribed for those who are diagnosed very young (like your wife -- for shingles "young" is typically under 50) because the cases are usually so mild. Did the doctor mention this? How bad is the rash? Has it been well over 72 hours since the rash first appeared?
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Old 02-06-2013, 07:53 AM   #4
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I'd get some Valtrex as a precaution. Time is of the essence.
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Old 02-06-2013, 07:53 AM   #5
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... it can happen to anyone who has had chicken pox in their lifetime.
Just a small addendum to that.
When I got shingles in my mid-fifties, I was shocked because AFAIK I never had chicken pox.
My doc said it's not uncommon for kids to have chicken pox without ever showing any symptoms of it, so no one should feel safe from shingles (as I mistakenly did).
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Old 02-06-2013, 08:00 AM   #6
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It happened to me 15 yrs ago. I woke up in the morning feeling a little crappy and noticed the spots down one side of my back. Went to work and felt very feverish. When I called the Dr. and described the symptoms he scheduled an appt that hour and I had my anti-virals by early afternoon. It all went away pretty quickly and never came back. I feel like I dodged a bullet though . . .
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Old 02-06-2013, 08:06 AM   #7
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I believe that anti-virals sometimes are not prescribed for those who are diagnosed very young (like your wife -- for shingles "young" is typically under 50) because the cases are usually so mild. Did the doctor mention this? How bad is the rash? Has it been well over 72 hours since the rash first appeared?
The rash it not too bad. Just a couple of areas no bigger than a thumb and a handful of isolated spots. She started feeling this late last week so it's been 5-6 days. I am surprised the DR did not prescribe anti-virals right away. She had a little lymph node swelling around the neck so maybe the DR was thinking a possible infection of another sort.
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Old 02-06-2013, 08:16 AM   #8
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Then I think I would just follow doctor's advice and not be too concerned about not being on the anti-virals. You are apparently outside the optimal time window. And shingles is not something unusual that you might need to point out to a doctor, it is a common problem that any competent clinician would consider.

If your wife were 56 or 66 instead of 36, I would be much more concerned about this. The young age makes a huge difference for shingles.
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Old 02-06-2013, 08:42 AM   #9
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Get the shingles vaccine. Here the pharmacies have it in stock and you'll need a prescription for it. It won't guarantee that you'll never get shingles but if you do it will lessen the severity.
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Old 02-06-2013, 08:52 AM   #10
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I have fought Shingles for about ten years now. My experience (probably) won't be much good in this situation but I will relate it anyway.

I have what I describe as an extremely mild case except for it being so persistent. In my case, it is localized on both sides of the spine below the belt line including, at times, to the upper buttocks. (Yeah, this precludes self-inspection.) My "rash" is always a single spot that starts as something identical to a mosquito bite -- and never more pain than that. In fact, that's what I thought it was the first time -- an insect bite -- and lived with it for over a month before it went away. (Neosporin is what "cured" it... by relieving the itch) About two months later. I got another one. A month or so after that another, and so on. (It most often occurred after a long road trip so I decided it was caused by the stress of driving -- I still didn't know it was Shingles.)

Anyway, a couple years went by and I mentioned it to my PCP who determined it was Shingles and prescribed a regimen of Acyclofir up to and including 3 pills a day for 12 straight months. It did not do any good the "rash" still shows up albeit not as often.

I, now, take heavy doses of acyclovir for a couple days at the first sign of itching in that area of my body. I have, also, determined that stress is always the cause (for me). For instance, a self-imposed deadline -- like promising to develop several hundred photographs of a family event -- will guarantee a "break out" within a couple days.

BTW, I have in the past year decided that Neosporin is no more effective as an anti-bacterial than, for instance, Vaseline. I now use Coconut Oil with excellent results -- it stops the itching.

Again, my experience may not be useful at this time but I hope it helps.

Oh! It is my understanding that once you get Shingles it is too late for the vaccine. It was for me.
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Old 02-06-2013, 09:43 AM   #11
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Just to respond to a couple of specific issues.

The Shingles Vaccine is recommended for those age 50 or over who have had chicken pox (with a few minor caveats). It is not yet recommended for those younger because the cost/benefit is not yet fully clear. Cases are usually mild in those younger, etc. The CDC lowered the minimum recommended age a couple of years ago from 60 to 50 when some new studies came out, especially the new Kaiser study which showed good results. If I recall, shingles occurrence is reduced about 50% but, more importantly, the most severe cases are reduced about 75%.

You can definitely get shingles twice (or more). Apparently, before there was a belief among many in the medical community that shingles only rarely reoccurred. The latest research shows this is absolutely not true, and from what I read past occurrences appeared to have little relation to the possibility of future occurrences. If you read the CDC shingles vaccine guidelines, it says to still get the shot even if you have had shingles already.
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Old 02-06-2013, 04:34 PM   #12
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Today the DR prescribed some Gabapentin for pain and Acyclovir anti-viral. My wife was feeling more pain and there was some more breakouts occurring. Hopefully this course of treatment does the trick (along with a lot of rest).
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Old 02-06-2013, 04:59 PM   #13
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I contracted shingles last September 25th. Only one sore eruption and a mild rash on my left side mid trunk. That's the good news. Even though Valtrex, the pain was damn near unbearable, ranging from hot coals and electric shock sensations to feeling like I had a sword running through me, and every 10 minutes some invisible troll would come by and twist that sword. Awful! This lasted seven weeks, gradually diminished, but the hot coal and electrical sensations remain 5 months later. This experience has affected me greatly regarding my outlook on ER.
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Old 02-06-2013, 05:18 PM   #14
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One more reason to get vaccinated. Prevention is key.
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Old 02-07-2013, 05:33 AM   #15
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I contracted shingles last September 25th. Only one sore eruption and a mild rash on my left side mid trunk. That's the good news. Even though Valtrex, the pain was damn near unbearable, ranging from hot coals and electric shock sensations to feeling like I had a sword running through me, and every 10 minutes some invisible troll would come by and twist that sword. Awful! This lasted seven weeks, gradually diminished, but the hot coal and electrical sensations remain 5 months later. This experience has affected me greatly regarding my outlook on ER.
Sorry to hear that, sounds awful! My wife was also getting that kind of "electrical shock" feeling down one side of her neck. She used an ice pack to help numb the pain. The pain meds helped her sleep much better last night. I think I'll be getting the vaccine soon. I'm only 43 and not sure how to get it but I'll do some research.
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Old 02-07-2013, 07:15 AM   #16
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DD had shingles in middle school. Really surprised her doctor. She went on pills of some sort and had a mild case. Hope your wife gets better quickly.
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Old 02-07-2013, 05:36 PM   #17
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In addition to the antiviral and pain meds, a family member used slices of aloe vera plant on the rash/blisters with good results.

Kindest regards.
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Old 02-07-2013, 06:03 PM   #18
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When DW came down with shingles the doctor gave her Lyrica. This is apparently an unconventional use for Lyrica but it really seemed to help relieve the pain.
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Old 02-07-2013, 06:21 PM   #19
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Notes from DW's recent bought with shingles:

Prednisone 10 mg
Famciclovir 500 mg
Amoxicillin 875/125 mg

Must get treatment within 72 hours

Hope she gets well soon!
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Old 02-08-2013, 07:34 AM   #20
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Get the shingles vaccine. Here the pharmacies have it in stock and you'll need a prescription for it. It won't guarantee that you'll never get shingles but if you do it will lessen the severity.
I had planned on getting one at 60, but may go ahead talk to the doc about it on my next visit. Not far from 60 anyway.
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